Expectations at all-time low for Weir

Mike Weir of Canada looks at his putt on the 18th green during the pro-am round at the Canadian...

Mike Weir of Canada looks at his putt on the 18th green during the pro-am round at the Canadian Open golf tournament at Hamilton Golf and Country Club in Ancaster, Ont. on Wednesday. (REUTERS)

JON MCCARTHY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:03 AM ET

Mike Weir is older, wiser and happy with his life.

That’s not a good sign.

Sporting a dark tan after missing the cut last week at the True South Classic in Mississippi, Weir seemed comfortable in the media room at Hamilton Golf & Country Club on the eve of the RBC Canadian Open.

Gone is the pressure of high hopes. The weight of Canada sadly, but mercifully, off his shoulders.

“I mean the expectations aren't there,” he said. “I'd love to make the cut obviously and play four days.”

In years past, Weir was the rock star of the Canadian Open, the event’s quasi-host. He made it clear that he considered our national championship a major on his schedule and against Canadians’ general nature, we firmly believed one day he would come out on top.

Then came the slump, and the swing change, and the elbow injury. Before we knew it, years began to pass, as they inevitably do.

Now, Weir is 42 years old and something of a contradiction.

“I love the game and I enjoy working at it,” Weir said. “It means a great deal to me, but it's not everything to me.”

He is playing the worst golf of his professional career but has two full-year PGA Tour exemptions at his disposal so time both is and isn’t on his side for a comeback.

He describes himself as a “worker” and he has been spending plenty of time digging his swing out of the dirt on the range.

One of the clearest memories we have from the Masters this season is spotting Weir on Saturday afternoon -- a day after missing the cut -- working on his swing by himself at the very end of Augusta’s driving range.

No distractions, no coach in sight, just a former champ trying to find his former swing at the site of his greatest triumph.

“That's what I do,” Weir said Wednesday. “And when you get it back … it doesn't happen by osmosis.

“You gotta get out there and put the work in. Now I'm able to do it, the last three or four months I've been able to practice quite hard.”

But will the grinder mentality work to bring him success in the second act of a career that has already surpassed the goals of his fans, his family and likely himself?

It will be tough. After all, professional sports, especially golf, favour those with obsessive personalities.

“When I was coming up, you have to be pretty selfish and pretty focused on one thing,” Weir said. “And that's just not how it is for me anymore.”

There’s the contradiction, again.

Weir made a career scratching and clawing his way to the top. He tapped every inch and ounce of his 5-foot-9, 150-pound frame and succeeded against the odds.

He’s now enjoying the fruits of his labour. He’s living a unique version of the Canadian Dream and who can blame him.

Weir is still putting in the time, energy and hard work, but grinders, or “workers” as Weir calls them, usually need an unhealthy mix of desire and desperation.

“I believe in myself, bottom line,” he said. “So I believe I'll be back.”

On Wednesday, writers asked Ernie Els -- who also went through some tough times recently -- if he could empathize with Weir’s struggles. They also asked Weir if Els’ British Open victory gives him hope for his comeback.

Let’s get something straight. Weir is no Els. Weir doesn’t have the massive frame and effortless power needed to keep up with all the young guns. Weir is a great golfer, Els is one of golf’s greats. Comebacks tend to be easier for the latter group.

“Mike is a grinder,” Els said. “I know he’s working hard, and I’d love for him to get back to how we know he can play.”

Scratching and clawing doesn’t come easy to somebody who has already come out on top as Weir has.

“I have a lot of other interests and young children, and if golf doesn't work out, it's frustrating, but it doesn't bother me too much,” Weir said Wednesday.

“I mean it bothers me. It's still I don't know the best way to put that. It hurts.”

And that’s the answer to what’s wrong with Mike Weir’s golf game.

 


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